Oh, Ervie

So many are the greatest defenders of the ‘under dog’. You have watched and would have held talons, if you could, or delivered fish or chicken breasts! Oh, how you love the birds. I know that many of you could not watch the Port Lincoln Osprey nest this year because of Little Tapps last year. I promise you that I felt that pain. So, it was only right that we all worried about the third hatch this year – Little Bob. The history of the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest tells us that the third hatch has never survived. Never!

Born 51 hours after Big Bob, Little Bob proved us all to be wrong. We never had to worry but we sure did cheer him on and I know for a fact that I was not the only person watching him get in line to eat. As it happened, the few times that one of his siblings tried to claim nest dominance – and pick on Ervie – he turned it back on them. I stand to be corrected but I did not see him once back down. In fact, the aggression by Big Bob (again it really was only tussles), just made Little Bob more determined to be first in line.

You can really see the 51 hours difference in the image below taken when Ervie was 10 days old. He is in the middle. Big Bob is on the right. Middle Bob on the left.

Last year the sat-pak was placed on Solly. I don’t know if it was because she was the largest of the two surviving chicks or if she was judged to be the one that had the best chance of survival by her actions on the nest. This year PLO wanted a male – to compare the dispersal with a female. They had their choice of the three.

Little Bob was chosen because he was actually the ‘biggest’ of the Bobs. Over the course of the past 59 days of his life, Ervie has proven that he will try as he might to be the first up at the dinner table. As a result, he weighed more than the other two Bobs on the selection date. Is that single fact an indicator of his chances for survival in the wild?

Today, in 42 kph wind gusts – it was truly terrible in Port Lincoln – Dad proved that he was up to bringing in a fish to the nest. Mum normally still feeds the lads but she did not do that this morning. Was it because of the wind gusts? or was it so that they would begin to learn to fight for the fish in the wild? The fish came in at 07:04:55.

Look at the spread of Dad’s wings as he lands on the nest. Incredible. In fact, I really have to give Dad a lot of gold stars. He has come through the worst weather to deliver fish to this nest. I am truly impressed with his fishing capabilities. Not once was there food insecurity – and there was not a single stress line in the feathers of any of the three boys on this nest.

So Mum is not doing the feeding. She is down on the lower deck perch. I wonder if her and Dad discussed this?

Three hungry lads on that Osprey nest. All of them fit but only one is going to get that fish. Turns out it was a nice flounder.

There is your answer – Ervie! Nice mantling job. I wonder if Dad reports to Mum??

Ervie does a great job mantling that fish!

What was interesting to me was that neither Bazzy (Big Bob) or Falky (Middle Bob) did anything. Nothing. They were completely passive. they looked at the fish and ‘sniffed’ around but there was not a single second of any aggression.

Ervie was not going to share. He was still eating at 07:46:08. His brothers are watching and terribly interested but they are the same civil brothers that have lined up for their Mum to feed them.

Ervie was still eating ten minutes later.

In the end, Ervie ate all of the fish but the tail and he let Falky have it for breakfast. Hopefully the others will get some fish later but for now, this nest remains the most civil Osprey nest I have ever seen. My hope is that Bazza and Falky will be more aggressive out in the wild, if they need to. Perhaps with the low number of Ospreys in South Australia, they will not need to be aggressive.

Indeed, this nest ‘won’ this year because of the civility of the three brothers. Big Bob and Middle Bob are both 61 days old and Ervie is, said it twice, 59 days old. Solly fledged on day 65. So the count down is on. We wish them all well. History will be made with three fledges – a first for these parents and this nest.

It is rather bittersweet because I know that we are all still feeling the sadness from the death of Solly. I hope that the powers at be work hard to make South Australia a safe place for these beautiful sea birds. Our condolences go out to Port Lincoln and also to those at 367 Collins Street on the loss of Baby Bob.

The snow and blowing snow continue. The forecast is for much of the same – snow, blowing snow, and rain for the next week. Hunkered down it is. Tomorrow it will be shaking the conifers to get the heavy snow off. The garden birds and animals seem to have found the food inside the wood boxes and Dyson is on his belly eating seed out of the hanging tray. What a character. No sign of Mr Blue Jay and his family.

Thank you so much for joining me. Please do take care. See you soon.

Thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Correct address for Minister of the Environment

Good Morning. This is very quick with apologies. The surname is Speirs.

My reader has discovered an error in the e-mail to the Minister of the Environment for South Australia. If you wrote and your letter was bounced back, please use this address.

Minister.Speirs@sa.gov.au

My sincerest apologies. Normal newsletter to follow later today. Thank you ‘B’ for this!

Big crops at Port Lincoln

The sun is bright and it is another blue sky day on the Canadian prairies. By evening, the temperature will be the same as the islands in the Caribbean — 29 C. It is hard to even imagine it and yet, day after day, this has been the story of 2021.

Just as remarkable as my weather is the parenting on the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. The historical information only goes back to 2015 so we know the couple have been together for six seasons, at least. In that time, they have fledged 10 chicks. In 2015, the eldest killed the two younger ones and went on to fledge. In 2016, it was a repeat of 2015. In 2017, the eldest tossed the youngest from the nest. 2 fledged that year. In 2018, two fledged. In 2019, two fledged. They were Calypso and Star. In 2020, the eldest killed the youngest. Solly, the eldest and DEW, the middle, fledged.

2021 will be a record for this nest if all three survive and all three fledge. It is looking good but, anything can happen to change this.

Yesterday, there was a fish delivery at 9:37:58. That was the one where Little Bob was running to the table. Everyone was full after and as far as I could determine no fish was left. There were two other deliveries.

The second delivery came at 14:49:57. The angle of the camera meant that it was difficult to see the chicks being fed. That said, each and every one of them had enormous crops when the third fish arrives at 18:19:09.

Mom sees Dad coming with the fish and starts doing her calling. Look at how the trio blend in so well with the dark material that has been brought to the nest. Also notice that they are now beginning to appear like old charcoal coloured rugs with light grey stripes! These three are doing so well. It is glorious.

Thank you, Dad!

Mom reaches over, carefully, to get the fish without stepping on the chicks.

Look at all of them lined up so nicely. There is no nonsense. Each gets fed til they are full or there is no more fish. There is definitely food security going on and it is shown in the civil way that the chicks react to a fish arrival.

The sun will be going down soon and these chicks are going to sleep with huge crops. They look like they could pop! Dad will have to go and get another fish for him and Mum.

Dad is spending a bit more time on the nest when he delivers a fish. Has this been a tactic by him and Mum to keep the kids lined up like a choir eating and not fighting? Whatever they are doing, it has been a couple of days since Big Bob tried to reinforce its dominance. Indeed, it has been a wonderful Osprey nest to watch!

One other check in. The two adults at the 367 Collins Street Peregrine Falcon scrape are going to be busy soon. They are incubating four eggs and the first one laid is now 38 days old. It is definitely hatch watch for this couple!

Thank you for joining me and checking in on the Osprey chicks. It is so nice to have you with me. Enjoy your day. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: 367 Collins Street Falcon Cam and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

Checking in on the PLO

Sometimes it is good to remember and compare. The little Osplets at Port Lincoln have grown so quickly that is seemingly unfathomable that they were like this only a week ago!

There is Little Bob in front the same way that he has been all along. Yesterday Big and Middle Bob waited patiently for their turns while he ate.

Yesterday a very large fish came on the nest at 12:44:16. mom was still feeding and eating at 13:38:39.

This is the beginning of the feeding. You can see the fish. Notice the two older Bobs – Big and Middle – waiting for Little to eat. Then they can have their turns. Little ate a lot and went to sleep. Food coma!

Mom continues to feed Little Bob.

Look at how close in size Big and Middle Bob are to one another!

Little Bob is out for the count and now Mom is feeding one of the older siblings. They waited nicely. No pecking. Just patience. Wow.

You can see how much is left of that big fish – the tail and a bit. Little Bob has woken up and Mum is feeding him again! They will eat the entire fish.

That will give you an idea as to how much has changed regarding their consumption. A week ago that fish would have lasted all day. Now it is only one meal. The osplets are able to eat lots more at a sitting.

Awww. Mum is checking with Little Bob to see if he wants some more bites before she eats. And, yes, of course he does. Why am I surprised? This little one is an endless pit.

They have all passed out and now Mom can eat the last of the fish and the tail. She needs food, too!

At 16:02 they are still asleep or just waking and continue to have large crops.

The cam operator pulls the image out and you can see that the Mom must have had a small piece of that earlier fish hidden. She is topping off the little ones. Remember. They will double their size in four days!!!!!!! Wow.

The golden glow of the sun setting is kissing the Port Lincoln Nest. Everyone is full and happy. It has been a civilized day. All of the chicks are now into their extreme growth period with their reptilian plumage (or lack of).

Did you know that a group of Ospreys is called a ‘duet’? I didn’t. Hawks Aloft published that fact today. They said it is because Ospreys are solitary. They only pair up for breeding season. They also said that it was because the pitch of the male and female is different so when they are calling, it sounds like a duet. Interesting.

I do think that David Gessner and others Osprey watchers in Cuba would disagree with the statement that they only pair up for breeding seasons. The reason I say that is when I first read it, I went ‘wait’. Large flocks of Ospreys have gathered together to fly over the Sierra Maestra Mountains in Cuba. Gessner wrote about this in his book, Soaring with Fidel. So do Ospreys gather together when it helps the group? only in pairs for breeding? and are solitary when it comes to fishing? They certainly don’t seem to help one another like the American White Pelicans who, together, get the fish to swim to a certain shallow spot so they can all feed. It is all curious.

Yesterday Tiger Mozone and I questioned why certain Ospreys are violent. The comment was related to the Port Lincoln Ospreys. Is it in the DNA? is it a result of toxins in the water that have concentrated in the fish and then in the Ospreys? Dr Greene at the University of Montana has studied heavy metals. Is anyone studying the toxins in Australian waters? I have not had time to look into this but will as well as the suggestion of the DNA connection.

It is now 04:49 in Port Lincoln. Mom is trying to sleep. Let us all wish them a great fish day. I will bring updates later tonight.

Thanks for stopping by. These little ones are growing fast and behaving themselves. Thank goodness. Take care everyone.

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took these screen shots.

Godwits…and more

I have heard the name but have never seen the bird – or, at least, I do not think I have. With my lousy shorebird IDs, I might have even confused this beautiful long-legged shorebird with a Greater Yellowlegs. Of course, everyone would have laughed.

Godwits are ‘very’ long legged shorebirds but their legs are not yellow! Their beak is ‘very, very’ long and is bi-coloured – light rose and espresso -and ever so slightly upturned at the end. They are called waders because they live in the mudflats and the estuaries. See how their legs go deep into the mud, too. They feed by sticking that very long beak into the mud, rooting around for worms and small shellfish.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The breeding adults have a chest that ranges from a deep terracotta for the males to a brighter orange for the females. The wing and back feathers are more brown and white overall with a touch of the breast colour, sometimes. They have gorgeous dark eyes.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The juveniles have a cream coloured breast with overall brown and white feathering.

“Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What is so miraculous about these shorebirds is their migration. They breed in Alaska and fly in September to New Zealand! They make only one stop, normally. And they do the trip in record time. It is an 11,265 kilometre journey or 7000 miles. They accomplish this in eight days! Yes, you read that correctly, eight days.

“Bar-tailed Godwits” by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Neils Warnock, the Executive Director of Alaska Audubon in 2017, remarked,These godwits are epic migrants. We had a bird, E-7, that we had tagged, and she left New Zealand in the spring. She flies non-stop seven days, ten thousand kilometres, to the Yellow Sea. All of the Bar-tailed Godwits of Alaska, they stop at the Yellow Sea.”

The Yellow Sea is located between mainland People’s Republic of China and the Korean Peninsula.

Historically the mudflats of the Yellow-Sea have been rich with food for the Bar-tail Godwits so they can fatten up and make the rest of the journey to their winter homes in New Zealand without having to stop. Today, the mudflats of the Yellow Sea are under threat – they are disappearing with coastal development. This could prove to be a major challenge for these beautiful shorebirds. There have been many studies and the researchers have seen a drop in the number of shorebirds by 30% in the last few years because the mudflat areas have been reduced by 65%.

https://www.science.org/news/2017/04/migrating-shorebirds-danger-due-disappearing-mudflats

The reports of the shrinkage of the mudflats has been coming in since 2013 with alarms sounding.

Today the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre in New Zealand reported that Bar-tailed Godwit 4BYWW made his flight in 8 days and 12 hours arriving home at 03:00 on 26 September. He flew 12,200 km. His average speed was 59kph. 4BYWW may have set a new distance record for the Bar-tail Godwits. We will know when the others return home. Isn’t that amazing?

What I found most interesting was her route. She does not appear to have gone via the Yellow Sea. Is this because of the decline of the mud flats? Have the birds adapted their migratory route? I definitely want to look at this more closely.

This was the satellite tracking image posted by the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre FB page:

The Centre was tracking another four adults and 3 juveniles on their journeys home. One of those, 4BWWB, has been reported as flying non-stop for 163 hours and over 10,000 km. Seriously, my head can’t comprehend what that must be like. I am also truly amazed at what these sat-paks can tell us about the birds and their amazing resilience. Just incredible.

Tiaki officially fledged on the 25th of September. The Royal Albatross cam chick of 2021 is foraging off the coast of New Zealand at the present time. She will eventually make her way to the waters off of South America near Chile. We wait for her return in four to six years to Taiaroa Head where we will hear that beautiful Sky call, again.

While millions and millions of birds are moving from their summer breeding grounds to their winter homes, others are waiting for eggs to hatch. Holly Parsons posted a table of Diamond’s incubation history.

Xavier and Diamond’s first egg was laid in the scrape box on top of the water tower at Charles Sturt University in Orange, Australia on 31 August this year. Cilla Kinross, the main researcher, is expecting a hatch from 6-9 October with the most promising day being the 7th. Can’t wait!

Diamond was catching some sleep this morning. If all of the eggs hatch, her and Xavier are going to be very busy!

If the hatch is expected around the 7th of October at Orange, then what about those Melbourne Peregrine Falcons? The first egg was laid on the 21st of August – yes, that is right. Ten days before the Orange falcons. So, I am going to be looking for a hatch at Melbourne starting in two days!!!!!! This means that all of the Melbourne eggs, if viable, will hatch before those in Orange. It will be nice to get to enjoy them without trying to watch both at the same time!

For those of you wondering about those beautiful White-bellied Sea Eagles, 27 and 28, here they are. Talk about gorgeous.

Things will really be starting to ramp up shortly. Bald Eagle breeding season in the United States begins in a few days. Looking forward to checking on some nests to see if the birds have returned – such as Anna and Louis who had the first hatch on a nest in the Kisatchie Forest last year since 2013. His name was Kistachie – very appropriate.

Then there is always the trio at Port Lincoln. They had two feedings this morning and a third at 11:31:27 when Dad brought in a very small fish. All of the chicks were well behaved – quite civil to one another. And, of course, Little Bob is right there in front! Look carefully you can see him.

Life is good. Everything seems to be going really well for all the nests.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Godwits as much as I did. Incredible birds. Take care everyone!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots or for postings on their FB pages that I have shared with you: Port Lincoln Osprey Project, 367 Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac, Falcon Cam Project at Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross, Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, Sea Eagle Cam @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.

Feature image credit: “Bar-tailed Godwit” by 0ystercatcher is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sea change for Little Bob

People were thinking that Little Bob was days behind Big and Middle Bob. It was only 51 hours hatch difference between Big and Little. Today, it is hard to tell them apart. They are a pile of black reptilian creatures. Precious still.

Yesterday there were six feedings on the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest: 06:10, 08:39, 12:25, 16:20 17:03, and 18:25. Everyone had crops.

All are doing fine. Yes, Big Bob does want to try to throw her weight around on occasion but, so far Mum has sat on them before it could get bad. I just hope Little Bob learns to protect its neck!

Today, the first feeding is just finishing. The golden rays of the sun fall on Mum and Dad as he delivers the fish at 6:37:35. Thanks, Dad! This is the best way to start off the day!!!

It is 11 degrees C and the wind is blowing at 19 kph. That is up 8 from yesterday. I do wonder if Dad fishes better in choppy weather???? It doesn’t make sense but, hey…he brought in lots of fish when there were white caps and the winds hit 34 kph and less when the wind is below 11 kph. I wonder what is up with all of that??

You can, for the moment, still recognize him a bit. Little Bob is lighter and he is turned around ready to jump over Big Bob to get to be first in line.

Now notice Little Bob’s crop. It is very big this morning but he is going to drop it. The food that he was holding in store will now be processed making room for his breakfast.

With all of the talk and the reactions of Big Bob wanting to dominate, Little Bob got to eat first.

And Little bob is still eating! This little osplet is not shy when it comes to fish.

It is such a relief to see a fish land on the nest so early in the morning. Hopefully this will set the tone for the entire day. All of the chicks are entering the rapid growth period. They will double their size – and by tomorrow, Little Bob will be black. You will really have to look hard to tell which one he is. I don’t know about you but Little Bob looks almost as big as the chick on the right. Maybe it is the camera playing tricks on us. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping in today. Everything seems to be on hold. The Bald Eagles in Florida are working on their nests, 367 Collins Street falcons are still incubating eggs as are Diamond and Xavier. The WBSE 27 and 28 are growing and growing and seem to be getting along fine. Tiaki has fledged. Birds are migrating all over the world. It was a really beautiful day on the prairies.

Take care. See you soon.

Thanks to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

Port Lincoln Osprey Nest, check in

Today was a day for me to go outside, walk, and enjoy a beautiful, warm, fall day in the country. I did check on the Port Lincoln Ospreys before I left and Dad had brought in a fish and they were eating. It is now noon in Port Lincoln, Australia and there have been two feedings. Everything is fine. I believe the following images will dispel any concerns. We had great days with 8 to 10 feedings and then they slowed down. The chicks are older and their crops can hold more so they get more food but there are less feedings. The older two are in the reptile phase. Some people love the rubbed oil effect and the bald heads, the dark plumage – I am usually glad when they get through this phase!

So here, with little narration are some images from the first 4 hours of the day. Check out the time stamps as you go through.

I love the golden rays of the morning sun falling on Mom and the nest. She is really beautiful.

First feeding. None of the chicks are fighting and this fish came in much earlier today than yesterday (past noon).

Mum makes sure that everyone is full. You can see, look carefully, that all three chicks have nice crops. She is still checking to see if Little Bob wants any more bites.

Right now it is really easy to tell Little Bob from Big and Middle Bob.

Mum is eating some fish. She deserves to eat just like dad and it is hard to get bites in with these three. But, look, does Little Bob want some more fish?

If anyone says this mum feeds herself before her osplets, they are wrong. She is breaking off a piece above and below she is offering it to Little Bob to make sure that he is full.

Look at the crops and the bald oily looking heads. Oh, dear! These kids are changing right before our eyes.

Oh, gosh. Little Bob just finished and now the other two are up at the table again. Mom is feeding both Big and Middle again.

“Last Call at the Fish Bar!”

Mom lets them fall into food comas and makes sure they are covered and warm. Maybe they will sleep for a few minutes.

Oh, no. They are starting to wiggle their way out. Just look at those pin feathers. These babies are going to be doing a lot of preening very soon.

An hour later and Mom is feeding them again. This is feeding 3 and they still have crops from the earlier feeding. No one is going to feel hungry today.

Little Bob stays up at the table. The other two are full.

Finally – food coma.

Happy, full Osplets sleeping in a pile!

There will be more fish meals today. These three are doing fine. We had one worrisome day. Let us all hope that is the last for this family. Right now – in this very moment – all is well.

Take care everyone. Thanks for stopping in. See you soon!!!

Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump through Ospreyland

Several people have written and asked about the third or last chick placed on the Patuxent River Park Osprey Nest 2. Many call that little one the ‘Silo Chick’ since it fell out of a silo and was fostered on this nest at the River til fledging. This little one seemed to have a short run, hopefully, of bad luck as it also fell out of the Patuxent nest as well and was rescued by Katherine Dami and her boyfriend. That little Osprey was so lucky! The flurry of activity around that rescue made me realize that every streaming cam needs to have an active 24/7 emergency number to the local wildlife rehabber or the person who would instigate emergency rescue at the nest. Ah, but back to the topic at hand. Silo chick fledged and has not been seen at the nest. Katherine, when asked, wrote to ‘S’ and said that they had not observed Silo Chick at the nest. Katherine did say that a large number of fledglings have gathered together and were honing their flying skills on another spot in the Patuxent River. So let us all hope that Silo Chick is there! If I hear anything more I will let you know. That nest looks very empty right now. Some fledglings like to be fed on the nest. A good example of that is LM1 and LM2 up at the Loch of the Lowes but maybe these three are being fed off camera.

So far there are only two eggs on the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest in Australia. I am quietly cheering that it remains only two. There are nests, such as that of Blue 33 and Maya at Manton Bay Rutland, that can feed and manage four chicks but, Mom and Dad at PLO will do better if there are only two. It could stop the rate of siblicide on this nest.

Tiny Little our ‘Big Girl’ at the Foulshaw Moss nest snagged herself a nice fish this morning from dad, White YW. After losing one to a bigger sibling last evening it is grand to see her eating away. Indeed, it is always nice to see Tiny Little!

Aran and Mrs G have been staying around the nest at Glaslyn. There was even sky dancing observed. The Ospreys want to seal their bond before migration. I am so happy to see the two of them around the nest. There was a time when Aran was injured and not flying much or fishing that I was concerned that Z2, Aeron, from the Pont Croesor Nest nearby or his siblings including Z1, Tegid, who has a nest in Snowdonia, might be eyeing the Glaslyn nest.

Mrs. G on the nest:

Aran up on his perch.

There has been a lot of discussion about when NC0 will leave the Loch of the Lowes Osprey nest in Scotland for her migration. She is still here and she is fishing – hauling in some nice ones for her two babies who prefer to eat on the nest. This was Sunday late afternoon.

The anticipation and seeing mom arriving with a fish:

NC0 lands it.

LM2 got the fish and ate really fast with older sibling hanging around.

Maya is also still at Rutland Manton Bay – there had also been questions about whether she was still around. Seen on nest with chick around 18:00 Sunday. Blue 33 had just brought in a fish for Blue 095.

The Friends of Loch Arkaig have just announced that the names of Louis and Dorcha’s two male chicks for 2021 on the alternative Loch Arkaig nest will be Aspen and Alder. The names are derived from the two popular trees in the area. They took 45.5% of the votes. Well done!

People have been wondering where Iris is. The cam operator spotted her early this morning, around 9am, on her favourite perching spot on Mt Sentinel. Iris is fine and is enjoying her summer. Worries, of course, continue for the Montana Ospreys as the Clark Fork River water levels are at all time lows. The trout are dying. The New York Times carried an article on this urgent matter. If you don’t have a subscription you might not be able to open the article and I apologize but do try. Just look at the level of the water in the image and the dead trout. So terrifying.

Speaking of Iris, I promised the Montana Osprey Project that I would mention their fundraiser – The Iris Pens – this weekend as a reminder to everyone. Dr Erick Greene has collected a few more twigs and sent them off to the workshop of Richard and Sharon Leigh Miles in South Carolina. The pens are $45 US and that includes postage.

This is Dr Greene with the box of Iris twigs.

This is Richard and Sharon Leigh Miles opening up the box of twigs they received from Dr Greene.

Richard begins by cutting the sticks in their workshop.

Pens get their beautiful shape on the lathe.

This is what the finished ‘Iris Pens’ look like – the colour and patterns will depend on the wood that the pen is made from. Iris spreads her love to various trees and shrubs!

The pens have been made and sold out for the past few years. This year as in other years we wish for Iris’s safe return to us from her migration next spring. If you want an Iris Pen, do so quickly. The original 35 are gone and, as mentioned, Dr Greene has sent some more twigs the birds knocked out of the nest to Richard and Sharon. Follow these directions supplied by the Montana Osprey Project.

1) Send an email to montanaospreyproject@gmail.com2) If your mailing address is in the US, on the subject line of your email, type your full name followed by Pen OrderFor example To: montanaospreyproject@gmail.comSubject: Your Name – Pen Order3) If your mailing address is outside the US, on the subject line of your email, type your full name followed by International Pen OrderFor example To: montanaospreyproject@gmail.comSubject: Your Name – International Pen OrderIf yours is an international order we will get back to you with a few additional instructions.4) The email’s body should include the following information:a) Your name b) Your email c) Number of pens you would like to order.d) Total amount ($45.00 per pen). Shipping is included in this price.e) Your mailing address just as it should be on the envelope. f) Send the email to MontanaOspreyProject@gmail.com5) For those of you who live in the United States, make out a check out to: Montana Osprey Project – Erick Greene(We are not set up to take credit card or Pay Pal orders. Sorry – has to be a personal check or money order)6) Mail your check to:Dr. Erick Greene – Montana Osprey ProjectDivision of Biological Sciences 32 Campus Drive University of MontanaMissoula, Montana USA 598127) For those of you who live outside of the US, send us the email with all of your information, but hold off on sending a check. We will get back to you with a few more instructions.

I can’t wait for mine to arrive.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I am off in search of hawks and ducks this afternoon. It is sunny and warm but we are going to venture out in the heat anyway! Take care all. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I grab my screen shots: Collins Marsh Nature Centre, Manton Bay Osprey Nest and Rutland Water, LRWT, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Friends of Loch of the Lowes, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Patuxent River Park Osprey Cam 2, Cumbrian Wildlife Trust and the Foulshaw Moss Osprey Cam, Brywd Gwyllt Glaslyn, and the Port Lincoln Osprey Project. I would also like to thank Richard and Sharon Leigh Miles for allowing me to use the information and the images for the Iris Pens and for their dedication to the Montana Osprey Project. A big shout out to Dr Greene for his devotion to the Montana Ospreys. Thank you!

Featured Image are the two 2021 chicks of Laddie, LM12, and Blue NC0 waiting for NC0 to get the fish to the nest. Their numbers are LR1 and LR2.

Rain and blowing winds

It’s raining outside. The sky is a heavy grey and the flame willow’s bark is a bright reddish-orange in this light. It is gorgeous. But where are the robins who should be pulling worms from the soil around the flame tree? They are no where to be seen. And the Dark eyed Juncos have not arrived en masse either. We wait.

The branches turn green in the summer but in the winter the Flame Willow is a bright red-orange.
“American Robin” by nicolebeaulac is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is no life in the dreary damp garden except for two BlueJays flitting about. In half an hour it will fill up just when the feeders are being replenished. Sometimes I think the sparrows have an alarm clock set – they are that punctual.

The last couple of days there has been a sadness hanging over the Bald Eagle community. Indeed, it hangs heavy today just like the grey drizzly skies that surround me. Jackie and Shadow on the Big Bear Bald Eagle nest in Big Bear, California lost their first clutch this year. Their nest is about 44 metres or 145 feet up in a Jeffrey pine tree with a view of Big Bear Lake. It is incredibly beautiful. Jackie is thought to be nine years old and Shadow is around seven; neither are banded and both so want to be parents. A Raven ate their first egg and the second broke. They tried again. Sadly, the first chick died during hatch as thousands of people watched anxiously along with Jackie and Shadow on 18 March. They could hear its chirping and must have been so excited. The second egg is now 38 days old. The normal for BE hatch is 35. Last year they incubated their eggs for sixty days and when they finally stopped the ravens came – the eggs were empty.

So we hope and wait. I really hope – beyond hope – for this nest to be successful this year.

And, of course, there are the on going issues related to the Great Horned Owls and Harriet and M15 on the Pritchett Farm in Fort Myers, Florida. The GHOW nest is 274 metres or .1 of a mile away from the eagle’s nest. This has caused nothing but undue problems for the eagles this year. Last night’s attack was one of the worst. The GHOW knocked Harriet off the branch and into the nest but a then off the nes! You can hear the cries.

Lady Hawk’s video shows this from several angles. You can watch the first and get the idea.

Eagle and Great Horn Owl populations have recovered since the time of DDT. Now, there are several issues both related to human activity – the loss of habitat -meaning space – and also the lack of trees adequate for nests that impact the lives of both. There is more and more competition for resources.

E17 and E18 are both self-feeding and they really are the best of buddies. Twins born within hours of one another. E18 might be the Queen of Mantling but both still love to be fed by their parents. They are so big. One of the best ways of telling which is which is if you can see the tip of the tails. The one with a white band, on the left, is E18.

For those who worry about aggressive behaviours, it is now easy to forget that many were horrified at the bopping E17 gave 18. E17 even had to go into time out at CROW clinic! It all evened out. E18 grew and became not so intimidated. That is a good thing. They will hopefully both thrive in the wild. As Sharon Dunne (aka Lady Hawk) reminded many on one of her videos yesterday, if the birds cannot survive in the nest being fed by parents they will never be able to survive in the wild. As it stands, less than half the bald eagles that fledge live to see their first birthday.

Look close. The white band is on the eaglet on the left. That is E18 with E17 on the right.

I continue to tell people that GHOWs are fierce competitors and they are dangerous. There is nothing cuddly about them! Speaking about Great Horned Owls and Bald Eagles, the two owlets of Bonnie and Clyde are really growing. The oldest is always ready to try and hork down the mouse that Clyde delivers. In this early morning shot, you can see Clyde, Bonnie, and one of the eaglets. Everyone is doing fine on that nest. Only time will tell if the owls become permanent occupants of what was a Bald Eagle nest.

The daughters of Farmer Derek named the owlets Tiger (the eldest) and Lily (the youngest). In the image below Clyde is on the left, Bonnie is in the back and if you squint you can see one of the owlets, probably Tiger, in the nest. Sweet names. I wonder if they knew that GHOWs are sometimes called ‘Tiger’ owls?

21 March 2021. Clyde, Harriet, and one of the owlets.

The young father, Harry, is incubating the two eggs on the Bald Eagle nest at the Minnesota DNR. You can tell it is Harry and not Nancy because of the dark patch at the end of his beak. Remember – this young father has not fully changed to his adult colouring – he is only four years old! That tree is really twisting and the wind is howling and blowing. Those eagles have had all kinds of weather to contend with, too. But now we should be thinking about a pip! Their second egg was laid at 2:54 pm on 20 February with the first on the 18th. That means that egg 1 is 31 days old. If the rule of 32 days for a hatch applies this young father should be getting excited. I hope that the weather smartens up for them and they have a successful hatch!

Very young father incubates eggs at MNDNR awaiting first pip. 21 March 2021.

The rain and the wind that is keeping the Minnesota nest soaked and twisting left the Bald Eagle nest in Jacksonville soaked as well. Gabby did a great job of keeping Legacy covered up and Samson even brought in provisions during the windy storm.

One of the things you will no longer see on the NE Florida eagle nest is ‘eggie’. Samson came in on the 17th of March and while Legacy was self-feeding, he aerated the nest. As he was punching holes in the base of the nest cup, Samson kept checking that Legacy was busy eating. Then he buried ‘Eggie’ in one of the holes and covered it with Spanish Moss. There seem to be no adverse effects. Some of us thought we would have to strap a backpack on Legacy so she could take Eggie and pinecone with her when she fledges. It’s hard to believe that it was not so long ago when Legacy had Avian Pox. She survived it well. In the image below Gabby has brought in a fish for Legacy. Legacy mantles and feeds herself. ‘Look, I am all grown up, Mom!’ They are all growing way too fast.

21 March 2021. Legacy is self feeding.

And the rest of Bird World seems to be in a holding pattern today. The trio at the Achieva Osprey nest have been fed. They all had good full crops last night and there was not so much commotion this morning when the first fish was brought in at 7:59.

21 March 2021 From left to right: 2, Brutus, Tiny Tot

The people on chat have named the eldest Brutus because of the way that it treats the other two. And, Brutus, was particularly nasty to both Tiny Tot and 2 last evening. Still, they got food and that was really what mattered. Brutus has not been able to stifle their will to survive. You can see all three of them standing up to be fed this morning. I did do a wee bit of a giggle. For many, Brutus is a male name and is associated with male aggression since the time when Marcus Junius Brutus was one of Julius Cesar’s assassins. In this instance, it is, however, highly likely that Brutus is a big female. Watching the Port Lincoln Osprey cam showed me that like GHOWs, you do not mess with a big female Osprey when she is upset. Best to just stay away.

Big and Li’l are doing fine on the Duke Farms Bald Eagle nest. Both of them had a nice crop this morning. There was even a tandem feeding with Mom and Dad.

21 March 2021. Both parents feeding at Duke Farms eagle nest.

Someone remarked at how big Li’l is getting – that is what happens when you get enough food, you grow!

And last but never least – the ‘Brutus’ of the Port Lincoln Osprey nest, Solly, is thriving. She is 183 days old today and she has mustered the strength and the courage to cross the entire bay at Streaky Bay. Well done, Solly!

Thanks for coming to check all the characters in Bird World today. The birds bring us so much joy – and sadness, sometimes. And, yes, uneasiness when we worry about them. Most of us sleep better when we know they have had a good meal. So today, let us send warm wishes for Jackie and Shadow – maybe a miracle will happen. It is too bad we can’t slip an orphaned baby eaglet in their nest for them. I am sure they would adore it.And let’s begin to get excited for the young father up in Minnesota. I hope it is a nice warm day tomorrow for their hatch.

And thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey and their Satellite Tracker, the streaming cams from Duke Farms, Achieva Osprey, NE Florida Eagle Cam and the AEF, SW Florida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Farmer Derek, the Minnesota DNR, and Big Bear Eagle cam.

Loch Arkaig Ospreys

What can I say? Spring is in the air everywhere and the folks in the United Kingdom are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their beloved Ospreys. There are now sightings for some of the nests and, we are, like them, getting ready for World Osprey Week. Today, the focus is on Loch Arkaig.

The staff at Loch Arkaig were shocked – pleasantly so – when the numbers of viewers of their streaming cam jumped from 60,000 to 400,000. Can you imagine? Many of the viewers during the pandemic were first time visitors to streaming cams. It is delightful because so many who began watching in the spring of 2020 now realize how much they enjoy the birds and how precarious their lives are. The people advocating for safety measures and donating to streaming cams has increased significantly. Many fell in love with the Scottish wilderness and the beautiful Osprey. Loch Arkaig is located in one of the only remaining Caledonian pine forest. These trees are part of the very first pine trees to be brought into Scotland during the Late Glacial period, about 7000 BCE.

Despite the fact that the Loch appears to be far away from Glasgow, it isn’t. If you travel to Scotland and like hiking, this area is a place not to miss. There are no less than twenty different trails near Loch Arkaig ranging from an easy walk of 9.5 km or 6 miles to a very hard walk of 224 km or nearly 15 miles. There are moors and there are hills, some of the highest in the area. And if you are a Harry Potter fan, you can catch the Harry Potter train at Fort William.

“LOCH ARKAIG: Forest road above the loch (5/16 an038)” by Ted and Jen is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“File:Beinn Bhan from Loch Arkaig woods.JPG” by Mick Knapton is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

As elsewhere, the Scottish Osprey disappeared during the twentieth century. In Scotland, the game keepers of the large estates killed the Osprey because they believed they were a threat to the wildlife on the grounds. The other major destruction came from egg collectors. Breeding pairs were seen before World War II at Loch Garten but it was not until 1954 when a pair of Scandinavian Ospreys arrived at the Loch that the modern era of Ospreys began in Scotland. In 2011, there were 202 known pairs and a decade later, there are more than 300 breeding pairs. Today, the Osprey is a Scottish icon.

In the United Kingdom, the ospreys grow to about 55-62 cm or 21 to 24 inches in length. Their wings span ranges from 145-180 cm or 57 to 71 inches. Their heads are white with the tell tale brown band running from the gorgeous yellow eyes. The breast of the female has a darker apron than the males with beautiful brown plumage on the backs and wings. They weigh 1.2-2 kg or 2.6 or 4.4 lbs. They have Reverse sex-size diamorphism meaning that the female is larger than the male.

The Scottish Ospreys are a migratory species. They return to Scotland in late March (or early April) where they will stay til September raising their young before returning to Senegal or The Gambia for the winter. The clutch has an average of three eggs which are incubated for five weeks (35 days). The female does most of the incubation and brooding while the male provides the food and security. The Osplets will fledge between 51-56 days. About 21 days after the young fledge, the female leaves the nest for Africa. The male remains feeding any chicks for another 7-14 days. Then the male leaves for Africa. The juveniles also go to Senegal or The Gambia although some have been noted to remain on the southern coast of Spain and Portugal. The juveniles will not return to Scotland until they are two years old. To avoid interbreeding, the males tend to return to their natal nest area while the females go elsewhere.

The return of the Osprey is being celebrated during World Albatross Week from 22-26 March – the return of the Osprey to Wales, England, and Scotland! It is a joyous time with birders tracking the bands from the south of England and posting the notices on various FB pages. Indeed, it appears that the Ospreys in Scotland could be arriving back early. The bands on the Perth and Kinross Osprey were seen at Glen Shee flying west today, 21 March 2021 at 15:54. Wow!

Last year I marvelled at Louis and Aila at the Loch Arkaig Osprey nest. Louis first appeared in 2017 and was later joined by Aila. Their first Osplet was named Lachlan by the public and hatched in 2017. They lost their clutch in 2018 to Pine Martens (many sites are putting up protections for the Osprey from the Pine Martens) but fledged two in 2019, Mallie and Rannoch. And in 2020, nearly half a million people watched Doddie, Vera, and little Captain. To aid in identification, Scottish Osprey have a blue/white Darvic ring (blue band, 3 white letters/numbers) on their left leg and a metal British Ornithological band on their right. This is reversed for Welsh and English Ospreys. In Scotland they are called tags and in North American, they are called bands.

The unique letter and number code for Loch Arkaig Ospreys is:

JH4 – Lachlan, male, fledged in 2017
JJ0 – Mallie, female, fledged in 2019
JJ2 – Rannoch, female, fledged in 2019
JJ6 – Doddie, male, fledged in 2020
JJ8 – Vera, female, fledged in 2020
JJ7 – Captain, male, fledged in 2020

The family keeps Louis busy fishing. Loch Arkaig is 19 km or 12 miles long. Louis has brought in both fresh and salt water fish meaning that he also fishes at sea. That is apparently a little farther distance than if the fished at the very far end of Loch Arkaig. The favourite fish on the nest appear to be Brown Trout and Salmon.

In 2020, Louis brought in 553 fish. Ailia fished and brought 26 to the nest late in the breeding season. Breaking this down, information from the Loch shows that of those 579 fish there were 459 trout, 64 flat fish, 34 mackerel, 11 sea trout and grilse, 7 Arctic Char and 4 pike. Impressive.

Here is a video of the highlights from the 2020 season:

And another. Enjoy!

None of the offspring of Louis and Aila have been spotted except when Doddie stopped in at Somerset on his first migration in the fall of 2020. The journey of more than 6400 km to migrate is treacherous. They get in storms, the winds, they can be shot, there was Avian Pox in Senegal in 2021, there are droughts, water shortage, and they can simply starve to death being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The little ones are young when they leave the nest. They have a long way to travel and find food and manage on their own without their parents or siblings there to help. Let us hope that some of them are spotted this year. That would be grand. It is heartbreaking to watch them hatch, grow, and fledge and never hear another word. It is one reason I am very grateful that some of these birds have satellite trackers like Solly from the Port Lincoln Osprey nest. (The Australian Osprey do not have to migrate but the young ones still have a daunting time surviving to adulthood).

I have to admit that the Osprey have become one of my favourite birds to watch. While I am counting down to World Osprey Week in the United Kingdom, I will also be looking forward to the arrival of the Osprey in Manitoba. More on that in the late spring.

Thank you for joining me today.

Cover photo credit: “Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)” by Allan Hopkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0